Books

The Special Relationship was never very special

19 September 2020 9:00 am

I have a book of essays from 1986 by a group of British and American scholars called The Special Relationship.…

A dazzling fable about loneliness: Piranesi, by Susanna Clarke, reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

Susanna Clarke is a member of the elite group of authors who don’t write enough. In 2004, the bestselling debut…

Bringing up Benzene: Charlie Gilmour adopts a magpie

19 September 2020 9:00 am

One day a baby bird falls from its nest into an oily scrapyard in Bermondsey, south London and seems unlikely…

Family secrets: Love Orange, by Natasha Randall, reviewed

19 September 2020 9:00 am

The line between obsession and addiction is as thin as rolling paper. Neither are simple and both stem from absence,…

When sexism was routine: the life of the female reporter in 1970s London

19 September 2020 9:00 am

This book made me almost weep with nostalgia, but heaven knows what today’s snowflakes will make of it. Fleet Street…

Is Germany really such a role model?

19 September 2020 9:00 am

The British romance with Germany has always been an on-off affair. At the turn of the century, Kaiser Bill enjoyed…

Eager for beavers : the case for their reintroduction

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Conservationists are frequently criticised for focusing on glamorous species at the expense of others equally important but unluckily uglier —…

The skeleton is key to solving past mysteries

12 September 2020 9:00 am

One hot summer’s morning, as a nine-year-old girl living on the rim of a Scottish loch in the hotel owned…

Hitler’s admiration has severely damaged Wagner’s reputation

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Wagner gripped the communal mind for decades after his death. Philip Hensher examines his enduring influence

The Tibetans’ fight for freedom continues — but only just

12 September 2020 9:00 am

‘Free Tibet!’ used to be a rallying cry for Hollywood A-listers and rock stars. Richard Gere hung out with the…

How the wreck of the White Ship plunged England into chaos

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Never was a monarch so undone by water as Henry I. A fruit of the sea killed him in 1135:…

Capital entertainment: how the West End became the playground of London

12 September 2020 9:00 am

The West End was always something a little apart. Some years ago, I used to go drinking with a man…

Gay abandon: Islands of Mercy, by Rose Tremain, reviewed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Rose Tremain has followed her masterly The Gustav Sonata with an altogether different novel. In 1865, Clorinda Morrissey, a 38-year-old…

Why fungi might solve the world’s problems

12 September 2020 9:00 am

The biologist Merlin Sheldrake is an intriguing character. In a video promoting the publication of his book Entangled Life, which…

The magic of JFK remains undimmed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

It’s easy to forget that John F. Kennedy lived such a short life. At 43, he was the second youngest…

Too much learning is a dangerous thing

12 September 2020 9:00 am

It is often said that the left does not understand human nature. Yet it is difficult to think of anything…

Primal longing: Blue Ticket, by Sophie Macintosh, reviewed

12 September 2020 9:00 am

Sophie Macintosh’s Blue Ticket is not classic feminist dystopia. Yes, it is concerned with legislated fertility, a world where women’s…

Is it possible that Neanderthals had a spiritual life?

12 September 2020 9:00 am

When I studied anthropology back in the early 1980s, Neanderthals were still largely the bulk-browed brutes of yore, grunting in…

The story of Sealand – a most improbable sovereign state

5 September 2020 9:00 am

In 2012, the editors of Vice ran an article aimed at would-be contributors to their self-avowedly edgy magazine headed ‘Never…

As Lucian Freud’s fame increases his indiscretions multiply

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Staying with Peregrine Eliot (later 10th Earl of St Germans) at Port Eliot in Cornwall, Lucian Freud remembered that the…

Forlorn Plorn: The Dickens Boy, by Thomas Keneally, reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Parents are always terrified of bad family history repeating itself. Prince Albert dreaded his son Bertie turning into a roué…

The South Sea Company’s bonds were never meant to be a scam

5 September 2020 9:00 am

In Money for Nothing, Thomas Levenson brings us into the story of the South Sea Bubble by writing about the…

Not such a hero: the tarnished legend of Robin Hood

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Britain’s two most famous legendary figures, King Arthur and Robin Hood, remain enduringly and endearingly elusive, and thus ever-fascinating: Arthur…

Portrait of a paranoiac: Death in Her Hands, by Ottessa Moshfegh, reviewed

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Like Ottessa Moshfegh’s first novel Eileen (2015), Death in Her Hands plays with the conventions of noir. Vesta Gul, a…

The paradox of Graham Greene – searching for peace in the world’s warzones

5 September 2020 9:00 am

Graham Greene was constantly searching for peace of mind along with escapist thrills, says Nicholas Shakespeare